Culture in Yemen: a driver for youth empowerment

When :

from Wednesday 8 June, 2022
to Thursday 9 June, 2022

Manager :

Bojana Zivkovic

Type of event :

Public relations

Where :

BOZAR, Brussels, Belgium

Contact :

Mohammed Ali Haidarah Al-jaberi

UNESCO and the European Union are pleased to invite you to Culture in Yemen: a driver for youth empowerment, an awareness-raising event organized within the framework of the project “Cash for Work: Promoting Livelihood Opportunities for Urban Youth in Yemen” funded by the European Union and implemented by UNESCO since 2018.

The project aims at creating jobs in heritage restoration and preservation for young Yemenis, while promoting social cohesion and resilience through creative industries. The initiative comes against a background of economic hardship, extensive population displacement, and heavy damages to infrastructure and heritage due to the ongoing conflict in the country.

Building on the ongoing success, UNESCO and the European Union have signed a new agreement to expand the geographic scope of the project and further invest in the cultural heritage and creative industries sectors. The new UNESCO project “Youth Employment through Heritage and Culture in Yemen” funded by the European Union focuses on employment opportunities for young people and supports small and micro-enterprises and cultural civil society organizations to use culture and cultural heritage as a unifying factor and a viable form of economic growth.

Through photo exhibitions, a virtual reality corner, and traditional music performances, you will discover the Yemeni culture and the youth involvement in the cultural sector. On the second day, the panel discussion with experts, artists, and project beneficiaries will offer the opportunity to share good practices and discuss the way forward for the future.


Diverse Music from Yemen

he diversity of Yemen’s culture throughout the different geographic locations has resulted in variety of unique musical expressions. Music in Yemen has been a significant catalyst for social interactions and cohesion throughout the country including in communal and private gatherings. Historical and cultural factors have contributed to  survival of a diverse repertoire of musical expression that are still being transmitted to  young women and men. The cash-for-work project has contributed to the support of Yemeni music focusing on the survivability of traditional instruments and associated playing techniques. The most recent contribution through the project is focusing on safeguarding the Song of Sanaa by transmitting the manufacturing techniques of making the traditional Yemeni oud, called Qanbus, and training young women and men to play the instrument. 
The live music concert is an opportunity to enchant the audience with samples of Yemen’s diverse and rich musical expression highlighting the role of young Yemenis safeguarding their living heritage. It will feature four different rich musical groups of songs from Aden, Sanaa, Shibam, and Zabid performed by young Yemenis living in the diaspora in Germany, France, and Turkey. The performing artists are bringing their passion and talent for Yemeni music and their experiences of living abroad for an engaging night. 

Virtual Reality Space

The prolonged conflict has limited access to different areas in the country for some Yemenis and international travelers alike. The use of technology provides a viable opportunity for people to virtually visit places which are on the bucket list of millions of individuals around the globe. Having a significant historic importance, the targeted cities within the Cash for Work project include some of the most famous  touristic sites in Yemen.
UNESCO in collaboration with a number of young filmmakers is bringing to Brussels a unique opportunity for the attendees to witness Yemen’s heritage. The virtual reality station is opening up an immersive experience in the four UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Old City of Sanaa, Historic Town of Zabid, Old Walled City of Shibam, and Socotra Archipelago, along with the historic city of Aden. The five videos provide a journey to the rich culture and biodiversity of Yemen while highlighting the work on their preservation and promotion. The audience will have the opportunity to select which videos to browse in a social experience for 6-10 people.

© Sadiq Al Harasi

Photography Exhibitions

Invisible Connections

UNESCO and the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Yemen is organizing a virtual group exhibition to support the call to peace and end to the conflict through the storytelling lens of a group of Yemeni photographers from across the country and the diaspora.
Invisible Connections indirectly addresses the impact of the war on the country and civilians at large by shedding light on the invisible connections Yemenis cultivate (either knowingly or unknowingly) with their environment and heritage at a time in which they continue to be burdened by a eight-year conflict. The fragmentation of Yemeni society threatens to further derail the prospects of a sustainable peace. By offering a platform to Yemeni artists, both those who are inside the country and those who have fled the war, we aim to start a positive and constructive conversation between Yemenis and amplify the call to peace, while highlighting the rich culture, diversity and creative potential of Yemeni artists.

“In the light of this theme of Invisible Connections, photographers were invited to conceptualize and shed light on their domestic lives and  connections they felt, lived, and experienced with their surroundings. They were set on a journey to reveal more than just stories to their viewers. They provoked dialogic imagination and reproduced scenes from their daily life in Yemen. These photographs are memoirs about the presence of the past. They are personal and cultural.” Thana Farouq, (Creative Consultant)


Saviors of Cultural Heritage in Yemen

Thousands of young people have been enrolled in the Cash for Work project and their lives have been impacted by the opportunities received. Their connection to the historic cities has changed from being mere inhabitations to becoming the saviors of their homes. The survival of the valuable historic treasures is entrusted in the hands of the future generation. UNESCO and EU have acknowledged the role of young women and men in safeguarding the culture of Yemen leading to the design and implementation of different projects during the past four years. 
The portraits exhibition pays homage to the thousands of young people enrolled in the project who are overcoming the challenges to  safeguard the future of Yemen.